Despite the common view that after a "honeymoon phase," things are downhill in a relationship, some relationships really do get better with age.
Long-lasting relationships require hard work and dedication, but they also often revolve around partners who have exhibited these qualities even early on. If you're wondering where your relationship might be headed, experts can pinpoint some specific signs that your partner will be there for you in the long run.
Some relationships fizzle. Others have more fiery endings. But this doesn't discount the fact that certain relationships really hit their stride as the years progress. "Relationships can absolutely get better over time," licensed professional counselor
Natalie Nesbitt, MS, NCC, tells Bustle. "Maturity is never a bad thing. It may take time to find a great groove that works for each partner." Nesbitt says that a desire for open communication, and curiosity for one another, are key. Life changes rapidly, and a lot, so your partner should likely be someone who's flexible and understanding.
If you're in a solid relationship, but are wondering where things might head next, there are certain clues to look out for. Not every relationship needs to be red-hot. Some partners are much more dedicated to the long-haul.
Here are 10 signs your partner will get better with age, according to experts.
Kindness may seem like a cheesy thing to flag as an indicator of the stability of your relationship in the long-run, but this trait is backed up by research as incredibly important.
John Gottman's research has shown that kindness and generosity are both predictors of successful relationships," David Bennett, certified counselor and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "If you and your partner are kind to each other, it's a good sign things will get better." Kindness, as a lifelong trait, is not to be undervalued.
They Are Honest And Direct
Dishonesty and evasiveness are pretty obviously bad for a relationship. But the opposite traits — honesty and directness — are way more important than you may realize.
"Many relationship problems develop because of outright dishonesty, or even more subtle forms, where a partner withholds [their] real thoughts and feelings on a regular basis," Bennett says. "If your partner is direct and honest, you may not always like what you hear, but knowing where they stand allows real communication to happen. This is the best way to resolve issues, rather than letting them fester for years without resolution." If you two are already resolving conflicts in a healthy manner, this is a good sign.
You can have a partner who is great to you without even realizing it. But having a partner who is paying attention may be a better indicator that they'll improve as time goes by.
High conscientiousness is a predictor or relationship longevity," Bennett says. "So, if your partner pays attention, is responsible, and disciplined, these positive traits will help your relationship get better with time." Even if your partner is coming up a bit short early in your relationship, if they're really trying to make you happy, then that's a good sign.
They Take Care Of Their Own Physical And Mental Health
long-term relationship, having a partner who is their own self-advocate when it comes to physical and mental health, and who is dedicated to self-care on this deeper level, is a big deal.
"If your partner takes care of their physical and mental health, they'll live a more balanced and healthy life overall, and this can positively impact the relationship later, particularly your emotional and sexual relationship health," Bennett says. Your partner doesn't need to be "healthy" to be a good partner. The key is finding someone who does not neglect their physical and emotional wellbeing.
They Take Time To "Date" You
The rhythm of a long-term relationship can become monotonous if a couple isn't paying attention. Because of this, if your partner is dedicated to "dating" you, no matter how long you've been together, that's a good sign for the future.
"Some couples get comfortable after being together for awhile and get caught up in the mundane cycle of just 'Netflix and chilling,'" licensed clinical social worker and licensed marriage and family therapist
Kimberly Lee-Okonya, tells Bustle. If you two love staying in, that's OK too. But if your partner occasionally adds a candle or a homemade recipe to the mix, that's a good sign.
They're Emotionally Transparent
Sometimes, there are things that are hard to share with your partner. But if your partner values
emotional transparency even early in your relationship, that's a good sign that they will get better with age.
"Being vulnerable is not an easy thing to do, so if you can do this with your partner and vice-versa, this relationship will continue to blossom overtime," Lee-Okonya says. If they're already displaying this ability, they will likely continue to grow.
They Can Agree To Disagree
on the same page about absolutely everything in relationships isn't necessary. If your partner feels comfortable saying it's OK to agree to disagree, then that's a good indicator for your future together.
"It’s important to know in relationships [that] although you are one, you are still two individuals with two different perspectives," Lee-Okonya says. "So knowing how to agree to disagree will surely assist with the longevity of the relationship and limit unnecessary arguments." This skill-set is important for long-term relationships.
They Speak Your Love Language
five love languages, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch, are all different ways that people like to receive affection. If your partner understands your love language, that's a good sign.
"We all have a different love language and it is important that our partner is able to speak ours, and vice-versa," Nesbitt says. You don't need to have the same love language, but understanding one another's early on is a good foundation for a long-term relationship.
Some relationships thrive on excitement. Others, however, move at a bit of a slower pace. If your partner, even in the early stages, shows that they value stability, then they may be indicating that they're only going to improve in the long-run.
"Although excitement is an important element to spice up a relationship, stability offers the nurturing ingredient of security that communicates that the person is in the relationship for the long-haul," marriage and couples therapist
Tim Barron, Ed.D., LPCC-S, tells Bustle. A trait that may seem unimportant or even boring at first can be a crucial building block for the future of your relationship.
If your partner hasn't seemed to have gotten any less curious about you, even as they've gotten to know you deeply, then that's a sign that they're going to continue the relationship with curiosity over time. This is a strong jumping-off point for a long-term relationship.
"Continuing to ask questions and showing a genuine interest in you and your relationship [is important,]" Nesbitt says. Having a partner who's seen your flaws and still wants to know more is a special thing.
No future relationship can be predicted with absolute certainty, but particular traits do stand out to mental health professionals as strong indicators that, in the context of a relationship, an individual will only get better with time. Every couple has their ups and downs, but these clues suggest a partner who's really in it for the long-haul.